This is my site where I will be sharing my thoughts, feelings and happenings. In the words of Austin Powers, "It's my happening, baby, and it freaks me out...yeah!" Enjoy!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Minga's Birthday

Minga turned 1 year old on March 13th. We bought her a new rubber bone and a new collar with matching leash (the pink one was just too big...she didn't grow into it like we thought she would). We wanted to buy her more than one toy but we knew she'd just destroy all the other toys we had to choose from. Petco sent her a birthday card and a $3 off coupon. Craig really got a kick out of that.

We have lots of little lizards on our property and Minga loves trying to catch them. We didn't think she'd ever get one because she had tried many times and failed but she did eventually start catching them. That was sad so we have discouraged her from hunting them ever since because these lizards are really cute and remind me of geckos.

Here she is on the office balcony on February 2nd happily watching a lizard:

And then she jumped on her hind feet to try to reach the lizard that is climbing above the screen door:

Minga on March 2nd resting in the yard after running around like crazy and swimming in the creek:

She loves chewing sticks, of course:

Minga fell out of the Jeep in our neighborhood the day before her birthday and scraped her face up pretty bad. It was bloody like this for a day or two but then cleared up quite nicely and the hair eventually started growing back in (you can still see a bit of hairless skin there to today if you look closely and we are hoping the hair will finish growing in). I wasn't there when it happened but Craig said she jumped right back in the Jeep after it happened. She didn't yelp or cry or even act bothered by the injury. Thank God her eye wasn't injured!

Here she is on her birthday with her new bone:


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Birth Story

Here is Alisa's birth story (Warning: it includes just about all the gory details).....

I was scheduled to be induced at 6:00pm on Friday 4/06/07 because baby Alisa was a week overdue. They were going to insert Cervidil to ripen my cervix overnight and start me on Pitocin Saturday morning if my contractions weren't good and strong. I went to bed at 11pm on Thursday 4/05/07 but Craig wasn't tired so he stayed up. I randomly woke up and noticed Craig wasn't in bed yet. I looked at the clock and it was 12:50am. 10 minutes later Craig came to bed and put his arm around my belly.

Even though the chances of my water breaking at the beginning of labor were only 15% I still couldn't stop anticipating it all the time. I meant to put something on the bed to protect the mattress, but never got around to it. Anyway, I thought I felt something (a tickle in my pants) so I was wondering about that when Craig said he felt a contraction. I hadn't noticed it so assumed it was another Braxton Hicks contraction. Then a few seconds later I felt my water break (a warm trickle in my pants)! I jumped out of bed so it wouldn't get wet and excitedly told Craig that my water broke and that amniotic fluid was running down my leg making a puddle on the floor. He got me a towel and I rushed upstairs to the 3rd floor to the only working bathroom at the time. We told my mom what happened (she had arrived on my due date for a 2 week visit) and I called the hospital to make sure it was okay for me to shower before going there. It was so I did that and we finished packing (toiletries and other last minute things).

I leaked amniotic fluid all the way to the hospital but was prepared with a maxi pad and a towel (wow, I haven't heard the term "maxi pad" in years...I just call them pads). I went to the triage room first (the time was 2:30am) where they had me pee in a cup and put on a gown. They verified that my water did indeed break, said I was dilated to a 1 or 1 1/2, checked my info (I had pre-registered) and asked a few questions about contractions, etc. I was moved to Labor/Delivery Room 219 shortly after.

They put me on Pitocin right away and the nurse had trouble getting the IV in my left hand. She failed twice (ouch for me!) and had another nurse come in and try. The other nurse got it on the first try on my right hand. The nurses took my blood pressure and increased the Pitocin a tiny bit every half hour. They had to keep changing the towels and "chucks" pads on the bed because I leaked amniotic fluid and blood consistently till at least 11:00am. I had to hold a towel at my crotch whenever I got up to go to the bathroom so that I didn't leave a trail. It was gross! I had a monitor strapped to my lower belly to monitor the baby's heartrate and one strapped to my upper belly to monitor my contractions. The baby monitor slipped off from time to time because it had that slimy ultrasound gel under it. Also, I had to unplug the monitors and drape the cords behind my neck and wheel the IV bag holder into the bathroom with me. It was quite the production. The monitors fell off a lot making things even more difficult.

Beginning of labor (you can see the cotton on my left hand that was soaking up the blood from the failed IV installation attemps):

Beginning of labor:

I slept as much as I could, waking just barely every time a nurse or the doctor came in to check on me. There was a shift change at 8:00am so a new nurse started checking on me. She brought me breakfast by 8:30am because I was starving and my labor wasn't hard yet. I had bacon (which I had avoided during my pregnancy because I was supposed to), a biscuit and lots of apple juice. Craig ate the eggs and I didn't eat the grits. My doctor (David Dixon) was on call Friday and Saturday and he arrived to check on me at 10:10am. A student doctor (Steve) was with him each time he checked on me. He said I was dilated to almost a 2 and 60% effaced with Alisa's head at station -2. Sooooo, about 8 hours on Pitocin and only dilated to a 2--ugh!

The nurse let me eat lunch at 12:10pm because, again, I was starving and my labor wasn't hard yet. I had breaded fish, green beans, seasoned potatoes and a lemon bar and it was all delicious. I had a couple of good bowel movements during the day for which I was thankful since I heard that whatever is in your intestines comes out when you are pushing your baby out (ew!). Dr Dixon checked on me at 3:15pm and said I was dilated to a 4 and that Alisa was face up (uh oh!). I had been on 16 milliunits of Pitocin since 9:00am...that was the highest they needed to go with me. The nurses and doctor periodically asked me to rate my pain on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being unbearable. By 4:00pm I rated it at about a 6. With each contraction I felt like I really needed to go have a bowel movement. I didn't actually need to though so it was disturbing and painful.

I decided to ask for an epidural a bit later and at 4:40pm the nurse started putting the required fluids in me via the IV. The fluids felt cold to me as I felt them coursing through the veins in my right arm. I soon started shivering and shaking from the cold fluids rushing through me. And yet, I wasn't cold enough to need a blanket...or rather, a blanket wouldn't help because I was cold on the inside, not outside. Pretty weird. The anesthesiologist arrived at 5:30pm and did his thing. I already knew about the procedure so I didn't bother looking at the long needle that was about to be put into my back. I sat on the side of the bed hugging a pillow and leaning against Craig who was standing by the bed facing me. My body was still shaking from the cold IV fluids I had received so that was annoying. Other than those shakes, it wasn't too hard to hold still, even with the regular contractions. I was uncomfortable after a bit in that position but only because I became hot from my own hot breath being in my face since I was so close to the pillow with my head down. During the procedure I only felt the little "bee sting" of pain from the numbing needle. I couldn't really feel the big needle much and it certainly didn't hurt because I was numb back there then. As I sat there I felt a lot more fluids leaking from me so I told the nurse she'd need to change the towels before I layed down again. When she looked at them she said there was a little meconium (baby's first bowel movement) in the fluids so she would notify the doctor.

After the anesthesiologist taped the epidural catheter to my back really well, he had me lie down flat for at least half and hour so the medication would distribute evenly. I felt warm and happy almost immediately after lying down. Gradually, my right thigh became numb. I could still move my legs but no longer felt any pain from the contractions. Sweet! Later on both my legs became numb and I couldn't move them at all. Then, hours after that I could move them again....didn't realize the numbness would change like that.

The nurse put a catheter in me to empty my bladder as necessary. That was kinda strange. I could kinda feel it going in my uretha but it didn't hurt at all. Also she removed the external contraction monitor from my upper belly and the doctor put an internal one in me (it's more accurate). It stayed in place because it was taped to my inner thigh. So, I had more wires coming out of me. It actually wasn't too bad since I was just lying in bed at that point. It was really nice not to have to get up and go to the bathroom anymore with all the wires hanging from me.

There was another nurse shift change and at 6:30pm I was dilated to a 5, 80% effaced and Alisa's head was at station 0. From 7:00 to 9:00pm the nurse periodically put me in different positions in an effort to get Alisa to turn face down for an easier delivery. I laughed at that process because at that time my legs were so numb that I couldn't move them. It was crazy...hard to describe how funky they felt when I put my hand on them.

At 9:00pm the nurse checked my cervix and said I was dilated to a 7 and thinned out a little more. Dr Dixon came in minutes later to check on me and after hearing my cervix was at a 7 he excitedly said, "Oh, let me check! Do you mind?" I was pleased that he was so happy and I didn't mind the confirmation of the good news.

At 9:45pm I threw up several times (just liquids). Of course they had a basin handy for that and when they took it away to clean it they gave me a barf bag just in case. There was another nurse shift change at 11:00pm which was a bit sad because I really like the nurse that had to leave and she really wanted to see the birth. The next nurse was great too, so it worked out fine for me. At 11:15pm I had what they called a "hot spot" of pain on the left side of my belly. They called the anesthesiologist back and he gave me a booster via the IV. Also, the nurse gave me something via the IV to help with my nausea. I shivered and shook again for a bit and leaked more amniotic fluids.

At 12:00am the nurse checked and said my cervix was dilated to a 9 1/2, almost completely effaced with Alisa's head at station +1! At 1:00am both my legs were totally numb from the booster I had been given. Dr Dixon had me try a few test pushes to see how I'd do. It was tricky since my legs were totally numb so I thought it was a shame that the extreme numbness happened so close to the end and not before. He said he'd come back in a bit.

At 1:45am my cervix was completely dilated and it was time to push. Thankfully, my legs were no longer numb. I had them up on the leg rests (they weren't the normal stirrups so I'll call them leg rests) and Dr Dixon told me to also lift up my pelvis with each push, which really helped. I asked them to set up the mirror so I could watch the birth. It was fascinating and I'm so glad I got to watch it like that. I was able to see how effective my pushes were. It didn't disturb me to see all that stretching and some blood trickling and stuff. I couldn't tell if I was tearing. I did see that my intestines were emptying out a little bit but the doctor quickly put a rag or something to cover that area to keep that junk separate. I pushed 3 times at 10 seconds each with each contraction and had a short rest in between. After pushing for an hour and 20 minutes Alisa's head was out. She was face up and they suctioned her out really well since there was meconium in my fluids. Pushing out the rest of her body was the greatest feeling. She slid out so quickly I thought of a kid rushing down a waterslide. I layed my head back in relief. The NICU nurses took Alisa right after Craig cut her umbilical cord so they could suction her mouth out more to be sure she didn't breathe in any meconium. Alisa was good and didn't cry until after they were finished. In fact, they had to try hard to get her to cry so they could hear that her lungs sounded clear.

Craig and my mom were taking pictures of Alisa being cleaned off and measured, etc while I was pushing out the placenta. The placenta was easy to deliver and felt really nice coming out (again, like a kid on a waterslide). The nurse showed me it as she examined it in a bucket because I told her I wanted to see it. The side that was attached to the uterine wall was very different from the other side. Dr Dixon began stitching up my minor tear and I felt needle pricks so I said, "Ow! I can feel that!" He frowned and had the nurse hand him some numbing agent and I felt a sting when he gave it to me. A minute later I felt more pricks in a different area and again told him I could feel it. But I said he could just continue if he was almost done because it didn't hurt too bad. After I was all stitched up and the mess was cleared away I sat up in bed and Craig brought Alisa to me to hold for the first time. My mom took pictures and we all just watched Alisa for awhile in amazement. Alisa was born at 3:06am on Saturday, April 7th. She weighed 8 lbs 8 oz and was 21 inches long.

40 minutes after Alisa was born we were alone in the room as a family (doctors, nurse and NICU nurses had gone). 10 minutes later the nurse brought me a turkey sandwich and apple juice which I promptly ate and drank because I was starving. She put towels, washcloths and a bowl of warm soapy water in the bathroom for me to clean up with. She also gave me a squeezy water bottle and some liquid cleanser and told me to squirt my crotch with the bottle full of water and a little bit of the cleanser every time I go to the bathroom and just pat it dry with toilet paper instead of wiping (so I wouldn't mess up the stitches or hurt my sore crotch). After cleaning up and hobbling to a wheelchair I felt nauseated and threw up. The nurse said that's common and luckily I was able to ask Craig for the barf bucket before it happened. Craig packed up our things and the nurse took us to Recovery Room 332. We stopped on the way to push what they call the Lullaby button in the hallway which plays a song to announce the birth of another baby.

I got into bed in my new room and the nurse helped me get Alisa latched onto my breast for her first feeding. She suckled for 20 minutes with a few adjustments necessary to get her to latch back on properly. A new team of nurses started checking up on me since I was on another floor. They checked my vital signs (blood pressure, temperature and oxygen level in blood) every 4 hours the first day of recovery and then every 8 hours on the second day. The pediatrician and her assistant checked on Alisa several times. They said Alisa is blood type B- (I'm O+) so they watched for yellowing of the skin to indicate a problem (apparently my blood could have gone to her when cutting the umbilical cord). They tested Alisa's blood for infection because Alisa was born more than 18 hours after my water broke. Her white blood cell count was high and she was born with a temperature of 101 so they gave her a few rounds of antibiotics through and IV in her hand. Something happened to the first IV after awhile so they had to put it in her other hand later. We didn't see the process or know about it ahead of time but it was sad to think she had to go through that. They also did a blood culture to see if anything grew in her blood after 48 hours (nothing did, thank God).

Dr Dixon (and the student doctor) checked in on me a few times during my recovery days. He checked my belly and asked how I was. The nurse gave me pain pills (Percocet and Motrin) 3 times because my crotch was so sore and swollen and a stool softener 2 times to help with my first bowel movement. It hurt so much to get up out of bed and walk after sitting for long periods. It was a funny scene to see me try to get out of bed to go to the bathroom while in the hospital. It took me forever to get up the courage and strength to inch to the edge of the bed and then push myself up. Then the first few steps were pathetically slow and awkward. I felt much better by the 2nd day and didn't have to change my pad so much by then because the lochia (blood) was lightening up. I thought the recovery was worse than the labor since it lasted longer and was icky and painful.

The nurses checked in on me every once in awhile and brought me all the juice, ice, water and graham crackers I wanted. Breakfast was brought to me at 8:30am, lunch at 12:30pm and dinner at 5:30pm. I got to choose what I wanted for each meal from a list, except Easter dinner on Sunday (which was a special meal with no options). I thought all the food was really good and was shocked that I even liked the cooked cabbage they served since I don't normally like it (but tried it just for the heck of it). I ate food such as chicken fingers, swedish meatballs, salsbury steak, ham, fries, chips, mashed potatoes, cooked cabbage, mandarin oranges, cinnamon peaches and chocolate ice cream.

A couple of lactation consultants checked in on me a few times to see if I needed any help breastfeeding. I did because Alisa kept falling asleep while nursing. They gave me helpful tips and handouts and told me about their weekly support groups. One of them showed me how to use a breastpump and gave me the parts I'd need if I wanted to rent one from the hospital or their store.

We left the hospital at noon on Monday. A nurse pushed me out in a wheelchair because walking was slow going for me still. We had been given a diaper bag with formula samples, etc as well as souvenirs such as our armbands, the basin and hair brush they used for Alisa's first sponge bath, the shirt and hat Alisa had been wearing and so on.

The whole labor process wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I know it's because I got an epidural...however, I'd always heard that Pitocin makes your contractions many times worse and they just weren't too bad for me. Even though it was a 26 hour ordeal, it went by quickly in my mind. I was excited that labor started with my water breaking because I knew we had to go to the hospital to have the baby that day...but it turned out to be pretty yucky since I leaked fluids all day and night. I had no idea I would leak for so long. I didn't read any books or watch any movies to pass the time during early labor since I was trying to get as much sleep as possible. My first bowel movement happened the day after I left the hospital (3 days after the birth) and it didn't hurt at all like I'd been told it would. Whew. My milk started to transition from colostrum on the 4th day after the birth. Alisa's last meconium-filled diaper was on day 6 of her life (little late, but things worked out).

Holding Alisa for the first time:

Happy and tired parents with newborn Alisa:

Alisa with her mom and grandmom:

The delivery crew (Dr Dixon, student doctor Steve and nurse Becky):

Flowers and presents from my mom:

Our friend Karen and her husband visited us in the hospital:

Some random nurse who wheeled me out to the car to go home:

My belly a week after the birth: